Choosing happiness

A couple months ago I made a list of simple things that made me happy like yoga, listening to music, eating healthy, being creative, reading, etc… I sought out to include one or more of those things in my life every day. The results? I felt a lot happier than I did before. Seems kind of obvious right? If I hadn’t made a conscious effort though, I could definitely see those types of things getting lost in the shuffle of a busy day.

I feel like happiness is something you need to invent in your life every day, every moment, rather than look for it or wait for it. The act of seeking distances you from happiness because it puts you in a space where you’re unhappy with what you have presently rather than making the most out of what you have. Happiness, contentment, or acceptance are available in every moment if we are open to them.

I  talked with my family about the idea of choosing happiness every day in life and it stirred quite a debate. They told me that being happy everyday was an impossibility. They said there are specific moments for happiness, such as graduating college, having a child, or getting married, but to be happy every day would be like lying to yourself since so much of life is painful. I felt sad that they could only see major and infrequent accomplishments in life as the times where they could allow a bit of happiness into their lives. I wonder if a lot of people feel this way. Do people feel guilty to be happy or maybe scared to be happy since they think of it as a fleeting emotion?

When I talk about happiness, I’m not talking about those rare moments of utter joy. I’m talking about the contentment and inner peace that comes with coming to terms with the ups and downs of life and finding the blessings in both of these. I’m talking about staying in the moment and not letting thoughts of the past or future overwhelm you but just enjoying the simple beauty in every moment like a kind word, a good meal, or five rounds of deep breath.

Happiness also entails being true to yourself and to the things you want out of life. If you spend over 40 hours at a job you hate or are in an unhealthy relationship with yourself or others, then you already are deciding against happiness and the simple things might not make as big of an impact on you.

What do you think? Is happiness something you feel like you’ve been able to choose in your life?

—Lissa E.

photo by Mansour Ali.

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Published by lissa e.

Lissa's offerings include integrative mental health care, meditation and movement (yoga, qigong, intuitive) guidance, writings, and community facilitation offered in a compassionate, trauma-responsive, and racial and social justice-oriented framework as part of a lifelong mission to reduce suffering for all beings.

14 thoughts on “Choosing happiness

  1. I definitely think happiness is a choice. Choosing happiness doesn’t mean you have to be bouncing off the walls with joy at every moment but it means you have to want more for yourself.

    If we’re unhappy we have to be willing to make changes to make things better. Sometimes the change is as simple other times not so much. However once you get int he pattern of finding unhappiness it is contagious, so much better to get in the contagious pattern of finding happiness.


    1. Exactly. I love what you said about “contagious patterns.” It’s so true. It’s so easy to strengthen yourself towards either direction depending on the little things you do everyday.


  2. I think a lot of ppl mistake happiness as something that happens TO them when really it’s about setting the right intention. have you ever tried a metta meditation?!? i think its something up your alley =)


  3. love this.. work on it daily as I catch myself going the other direction and quickly find something that will make me smile. Twitter helps with that a lot 😉


  4. YES – I choose to be happy every day. If I wake up and I’m alive and kicking – that is good enough reason to embrace the day. It is the little things that bring me delight – a sunny day, a great song, seeing the spring flowers pop up, a yummy cup of coffee, seeing a fellow twitter buddy starting a new yoga blog….Life is Good! 🙂


  5. Yes I’ve been learning too that happiness is a choice. I’m not saying it’s always an easy one to make 😉 but hey, it’s about embracing the good and there is always some good, even a little thing. Actually, particularly little things 🙂


  6. Your first paragraph is so amazingly true and something I remind myself with daily with a mantra “Do I want to LIVE or Do I want to Exist?” LIVE!

    My good friend told me once – sadness is easy, happiness is hard – but once you have it – you never want to let it go!

    I love your post – kudos!!


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